2009 Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Inductee
The late, great Mrs. T.S. Ruth Harrison, a most remarkable golfer who has taken her place in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, was of another age, another century, sadly so far removed from today's whirlwind world that time, the Great Depression, a couple of World Wars and other conflagrations have plagiarized her pedigree.
Ruth Harrison, an icon of venerable Denver Country Club, blossomed late as a brilliant golfer but left the scene so quickly that curled pages of history have eroded most facets of her life, erased memories of her family and close friends and left few traces of her life on the byways beyond those of her dazzling exploits on the fairways.
Thanks to the recollections of attorney/historian/author Charles C. Bonniwell in his elegant tome, "The History of Denver Country Club (1887-2006)," there are some precious threads pulling together a smidgen of the remarkable golfing exploits of Ruth Harrison.
Her prowess on the links did not manifest itself until she was on the cloudy side of 45 when she won three consecutive Colorado Women's State Amateur Championships, all at the expense of the highly-touted teenager Phyllis Buchanan from Lakewood CC. The matches were tantamount to Juli Inkster wrinkling the shorts of Lorena Ochoa.
As Bonniwell put it, "There could have been no greater contrast. Phyllis Buchanan was a 16-year-old and looked every bit the tomboy she was at the time. Mrs. Harrison's age is not known with any exactitude, but she was believed to be three times the age of Miss Buchanan and looked even older. She was not tall, had graying hair, wore spectacles and walked with a slight stoop. The match appeared to observers as if an "aging grandmother was trying to compete against her athletic and exuberant granddaughter."
That Ruth Harrison would win in a romp, 4 and 3, in the finals of that 1927 State Championship was not nearly as shocking as the fact she took the measure of the "Lakewood Lass," as Buchanan was dubbed, in the 1928 finals, 6 and 5, and made it three in a row over Buchanan in the 1929 finals, 2 and 1.
Ruth Harrison, labeled by Bonniwell as "the greatest female golfer Denver CC produced in the Roaring Twenties," would win the Denver CC championship four consecutive years, 1926-29, qualified for the Women's Trans-Mississippi Championship in 1929, but seemingly and strangely evaporated with barely a trace thereafter.
Phyllis Buchanan would win the 1930 State Championship, plus five more and eventually was elected to the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 1979. It is more than appropriate that feisty Ruth Harrison would take her place alongside her this year in the Hall of Fame.